With Sunday’s first round Ulster championship game between Antrim champions, Erin’s Own Cargin and Gaoth Dobhiar of Donegal fast approaching the Saffron Gael speaks to Tomas McCann who has been the Toome sides top forward during the Antrim championship.
Tomas always seems at his best in high pressure games and has come up trumps when the chips were down on a number of occasions in this year’s successful championship campaign. McCann pointed a late free to earn his side a replay in their opening game against Lamh Dhearg and was part of the side who defeated the Hannastown men in the replay at Sunday’s venue.
Again he came to the rescue against St. Gall’s when he drove a last minute 20 meter free through a crowded goalmouth to earn Cargin a spectacular win. Tomas’ goal went viral on social media and no doubt has been seen by the Donegal side’s mentors.
In a low scoring final against neighbours Creggan which finished 0-5 to 0-4 Tomas McCann hit the score of the game from near the right hand touchline early in the second half as his side edged out the Kickham’s to collect their third title in four years.
Coming from a family steeped in GAA tradition, Tomas’ father Peadar won a championship medal with Cargin while his brothers Eamon won three and another brother, Peadar collected two championship medals. He will be joined by his brother Michael, who was man of the match in the final against Creggan and Paul who is making his way back after injury
The Tomas McCann Interview
Saffron Gael: Tomas, Cargin have won 8 county titles, how many of them did you feature in
Tomas McCann: I’ve featured on four championship winning sides.
S.G.) There’s a strong family connection with yourself, Michael and Paul all part of the present panel and Eamon and Peadar former players. I also remember your dad playing for Cargin. Did Eamon, Peadar or your dad win any championship medals.
Tomas McCann: My father has one, Eamon three and Peadar two.
S.G.) I know your dad, mum and family are all keen Gaels and Cargin and Antrim supporters. How much influence did they have on your career?
Tomas McCann: They had a massive influence, we were lucky that our dad was really into the skill side of football, all I can remember from a young age, is practising with my weaker foot and hand, we played football from morning till night as youngsters.
S.G.) Cargin have won three of the last four championships in Antrim but have failed to really perform on the Ulster stage. What, if anything do you think is different this year?
Tomas McCann: Strong mentality is vital to succeed in anything never mind football. If we have a strong mentality going into Ulster we will have every chance of being successful and Damian Cassidy has instilled that into us.
S.G.) When Damian Cassidy and Ronan Devlin took over at the start of this year it seemed, looking in from the outside that little had changed. Those with that view may well have changed their mind since your successful championship run. How do you think they have improved matters at the club.
Tomas McCann: They have created a panel, emphasising that each game brings a new challenge and that the next game might suit someone else and it’s very much a panel game. They have also emphasised how important basic skills are.
S.G.)You looked to be heading out of the championship in your opening game against Lamh Dhearg before your late equalising point and after impressing in the replay against the Hannastown men at Corrigan you again showed the Midas touch with that great late goal against St. Gall’s. Surely you must have felt that your name was on the cup after that?
Tomas McCann: No actually i never thought that, we didn’t want to waste those experiences. In both games we drew a bit of luck yes, but we were also really unlucky at times in the games as well. Going into this championship we had a serious amount of injuries that weren’t a two week fix. Some boys had been out for months, including myself, John Carron, my brother Paul and Marty Kane. The three games showed how strong our mentality is, to be able to fight back when things were not going our way, and the panel pulling together.
S.G.) There has been a lot of speculation about Gaoth Dobhair but what do you know about them?
Tomas McCann: They are a very organised team, have quite a number of dangerous players. They like to play on the break. I think it will be a good tight match but one we can win.
S.G.) The match has been fixed for Corrigan. The Whiterock Road ground should hold fond memories for you. It was there you beat St. Gall’s in the final in 2015 and of course you have represented Antrim there on a number of occasions. How do you feel about the venue?
Tomas McCann: I’m happy enough now that the game is approaching, the pitch will be in good condition and that’s all we can really ask for. Corrigan has been good for us over the last four years in big games and I hope that continues on Sunday.
S.G.) As I said earlier, the team have not done themselves and their support justice in previous Ulster campaigns. Do you think previous experience coupled with the new management will stand you in good stead this time?
Tomas McCann: The management have enabled this panel to adjust to whatever the situation demands. That was obvious throughout the championship. If we play with our heads as well as our hearts the talent is there to succeed.
Tomas McCann and Cargin will certainly not be short of support both on and off the field on Sunday. Along with Michael and Paul, his brother in law, Tony Scullion has been a major player on the Erin’s Own side this year. The men from Gaoth Dobhair stand in their way and are sure to prove to be a tough opponent to overcome but if Cargin get the breaks and a bit of early momentum then they can succeed.
The Tomas McCann goal that saw Cargin make a spectacular come-back against St. Gall’s in the semi-final.